I figured while the internet was doing fairly well I would just write a whole slew of posts. And by that I mean probably just two, but this one will foreshadow what I will be up to in the coming months.
While I have very much enjoyed spending time around my town and working with my silkweavers and rock sculptors, I decided it was time to get out and start seeing Madagascar. I mean, I have been here 7 months and I have not seen a fraction of what I want to! Most of that is due to the fact that we aren't supposed to travel the first 5 months, and I was a good volunteer and followed that. Mostly.
We began Sarah's weekend excursions this past weekend. My region, Itasy, is known mostly for the lake and fish, as well as Pineapple in Arivonimamo, and bureaucracy in my town, haha. However, there are a couple tourist attractions that mostly bring Malagasy people from Tana on short weekend trips. I went to the geysers in Analavory, about 20 km from my town, back in June or July, with the Malagasy family who lives upstairs. That was pretty cool, but Eric and I have been dying to make the trek to the beautiful waterfall in Ampefy, known as Chute de la Lily. Emma had already hiked there awhile back, but was more than willing to take us there again.
So we set off around 9 Sunday morning: Eric, Emma, Grace, the British volunteer in Ampefy, and myself. We hiked the 6 km through the dry burned mountains to the first waterfall. It is funny, but because it is a waterfall, I assumed we would be hiking through almost jungle, with overhanging trees and a small narrow path that eventually opens up to the falls. But the road was as open as any other in Itasy, and there aren't very many trees here because they burn the mountains to grow grass for cattle (BAD).
We reached the falls around 11. A beautiful, cascading chute of water with an emerald green pool at the bottom. Because it is the dry season, the water was very low. But there were still quite a few people playing in the water, and a couple crazy young men jumping from behind the water into the pool. They are crazy, because they had no idea how deep the water was.
My Malagasy friend, Dominique, a man in his 30s and a lawyer I met in Miarinarivo, met up with us at the first falls. He has a motorcycle, so he left significantly later in the morning. He brought a few things for a picnic and we bought rice from the little stand by the falls. Then he joined us on the trek to the more secluded seond falls.
Secluded was right. Where there had been close to 40 or so people at the first falls, the second, another 2 km away, was completely deserted. And just as stunning. The pool was smaller, but the falls larger. I al excited to return during the rainy season to compare the two, I am sure they are very different.
So, all in all my first excursion in a series of awesome weeends to come was a complete success.
Up next: excursions take a cultural turn when Sarah and Eric head to Tsiroanomandidy (say that 3 times fast) to attend the wedding of the younger brother of Eric's friend in Arivonimamo. Tsiroanomandidy is where the main road ends, the one that passes through my town going west from Tana. I am really looking forward to that, because I haven't been to a Malagasy wedding yet. That is Saturday, and we are going to head to Ampefy again on Sunday because there is a huge festival about fish going on all weekend, culminating with a concert at one of the hotels of the famous Malagasy band, Mahaleo.
The end of the month: We have another advidory council (VAC) meeting, like the one in Antsirabe in June. This one will be in Tana, and will involve Halloween themed lazer tag (among the productive things). Then, because I STILL have not seen the ocean (it is what i get for livingin the dead center of the island) or a national park, while Eric heads off to the states to see his little bro get married (awwwwwww) I am dragging Emma to Andasibe National Park to see lemurs and other such odd things. Then we are going to continue east to Tamatave and Foulpointe on the coast, and crash the Tamatave region VAC as well. SO EXCITED!
Thanksgiving: These plans are not yet confirmed, but I am trying to organize a trip south to Fianarantsoa and Ranomafana National Park and Hot Springs. There are 2 guys from my stage that are OSU fans, and a girl in the far south east who bleeds blue like me. The Michigan/OSU game is the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so I am hoping to take a little vacation to cool places I want to see, and at the same time celebrate the greqtest rivalry in all of college sports.
Christmas and New Years: Emma's family is coming from the states around the 21st, so I am going to stick around Itasy and help show them around for a couple of days. Then they are jetting of to Toliara in the south west. My friend Christina's sister is coming from the states for Christmas, so I am going to head down near her to Fianarantsoa, probably with Eric and anyone else we can wrangle up. We are talking about taking the train from Fianarantsoa to Manakara on the coast on Christmas day (It will be like Harry Potter!!-Christina) and then spend a few days enjoying the coast in the south east. Then head back to Tana for New Years because that is supposed to get crazy! Then I will head back to my site and buckle down for a bit and get some work done. Probably.
Looking forward to the next few months! I have a feeling they are just going to fly.